Thomas loved music. At a very early age, long before his music education at the Chicago College of Composition and Arranging, he was playing piano in a Vaudeville act. After college, he frequented the jazz clubs, gaining quite a reputation as the very talented 'Georgia Tom'.
In 1921, at the age of 22, Thomas gave his life to Jesus. Almost immediately he left the jazz clubs and began writing Gospel music. He took great effort to circulate his musical scores, but it was three long years before anyone started to notice. Little by little his reputation grew, not only as a songwriter but as a church music director.
In 1932 while the now Reverend Dorsey was leading a church service, a man came on to the platform to hand him a telegram - his wife had just died in childbirth. Within 24 hours his newborn baby died also. Thomas quickly spiraled downward into the depths of despair, doubting the goodness of God and determining never to write another hymn.
A week after that horrible, life changing day, Thomas was deep into his grief, sitting alone at a piano, in a friend's music room. Into the room came a heavy peace such as he had never known before. As that peace enveloped him, Thomas felt the urge to play the piano. His fingers found a familiar melody and the words to Precious Lord, Take My Hand began to well up from his heart and to spill out of his mouth. God had given him a song that would not only lift him from despair, but would also change the course of his music career.
Precious Lord, Take My Hand has been translated into more than 40 languages, has been sung by some of the biggest names in Gospel music, including Mahalia Jackson and Elvis Presley, and it was Dr. Martin Luther King's favorite hymn. Reverend Thomas Dorsey went on to write many more hymns, including the famous Peace in the Valley, which when recorded by the Sunshine Boys in 1951, became the first Gospel song recording in history to sell more than one million copies.
“I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, 'Fear not; I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:13)
Precious Lord, Take My Hand
Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light:
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.
When my way grows drear,
Precious Lord, linger near,
When my life is almost gone,
Hear my cry, hear my call,
Hold my hand lest I fall:
When the darkness appears
And the night draws near,
And the day is past and gone,
At the river I stand,
Guide my feet, hold my hand: